Rookie Minicamp Observations

The Dolphins concluded on Sunday their three-day minicamp for rookies and first-year players who have yet to register a pension year in the NFL. During those three days, which included four practices, we got a close-up look at all nine of the team's draft picks, and some clearly performed better than others.

Keep in mind that the practices were conducted with players in shorts and there was no contact involved, so only so much should be read into this. From a coaching standpoint, in fact, probably the most important thing was to see how well players could absorb all the information thrown at them.

That said, here are some things that stood out over the weekend:

-- Pat White wasn't particularly dazzling throwing the ball, although he did have a gorgeous bomb to first-year player Anthony Armstrong late in the Friday practice. White didn't take snaps over the weekend to protect the pinkie on his throwing (left) hand that he injured a few days before the start of minicamp.

One thing that White did that really pleased Coach Tony Sparano was the way he answered the question about how he had injured himself by saying, "You'll have to talk to Coach about that one."

-- The two cornerbacks look like big-time prospects.

First-round pick Vontae Davis and second-rounder Sean Smith both certainly look the part, with Davis built more like a short linebacker and Smith bringing great size and fluid movement to the position.

Both had picks during the minicamp and we noticed Smith, in particular, doing a tremendous job in coverage. Even on the bomb to Armstrong where Smith did have the coverage, it was more of a case of White throwing a perfect pass than it was Armstrong badly beating Smith.

It also was interesting to see Smith lining up opposite 6-foot-5 Patrick Turner and even cooler to watch Smith covering 5-foot-8 rookie free agent Chris Williams.

-- Speaking of the two wide receivers drafted by the Dolphins, Turner clearly looked like a better prospect than Brian Hartline. In addition to his great size, he also showed really soft hands at minicamp. The big question with Turner will be what kind of separation he can get in the NFL.

-- Fifth-round pick Chris Clemons had a big day at practice on Sunday with two interceptions and later earned praise from Sparano for his communication on the field.

-- Among the seven non-rookies at minicamp, the one who stood out obviously was Cameron Wake, who certainly looks impressive physically. It was also was impressive to watch cover a tight end down the field and doing a good job at it.

The former CFL sensation could be a major player for the Dolphins this season and nothing he did at minicamp would give reason not to be optimistic.

-- Another non-rookie was punter Jy Bond, the Australian native signed a couple of weeks ago.

Two things stood out with Bond this weekend: When he nails it, it's a rocket. Far and with a lot of hang time. But there's a major consistency issue at this point, and he'll follow a booming punt with a shank.

He's hoping to beat out Brandon Fields for the punting job, but based on this weekend it's probably a long shot for him.

-- There were eight players at the minicamp on a tryout basis and we can honestly say that none of them jumped out.

Quarterback Nathan Longshore, who played at Cal, has great size (6-4, 230) and a big-time arm, but he was very inconsistent with his accuracy over the weekend.

-- Among the rookie free agents, Williams stood out because he's so short and didn't show the speed to overcome that deficiency.

Besides him, tight end Jared Bronson looked every bit as good as fifth-round pick and fellow tight end John Nalbone. In fact, he probably looked better considering Nalbone dropped a couple of passes over the weekend.

The fact is, Bronson was considered in many places to be a better prospect than Nalbone.

-- A lot has been made about nose tackle Louis Ellis from Shaw University because of the team's lack of depth at the position, but Sparano hinted after Sunday's practice that Ellis needs to lose some weight.

Because there was no contact this weekend, it was difficult to gauge Ellis' ability as a player, but Sparano saying Ellis was "raw fundamentally" should cool any idea that this guy could come out of nowhere and become a stud backup for Jason Ferguson.


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